New York Auto Show: Convertibles aren't quite dead yet as models hang on





If passenger vehicles are dying, where does that leave convertibles?

From the 1960s to the early 2000s, ragtops were forged into the collective imagination as symbols of freedom and rebellion. But over the past several years, they have largely become status symbols that motorists consider too impractical for daily driving.

And carmakers have clearly taken notice.

As consumer behavior has shifted from cars to SUVs, automakers have increasingly reduced their droptop offerings, killing off models like the Volkswagen Beetle, Toyota Solara and Chrysler 200 - to name a few.

At its peak in 2006, convertible sales reached 344,000 in the U.S., according to IHS Markit, but the market isn't expected to return to those levels any time soon, according to IHS.

From 2014 to 2018, annual sales of convertibles in the U.S. dropped by over 23%, according to Edmunds.com data provided to USA TODAY.

Fewer than one in 100 vehicles sold in the U.S. now comes with a foldable top.

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Despite the fall in annual sales, a few automakers are holding on to the droptop, showing off a slew of modern options at virtually every price point.

From models that can lower their tops in just a few seconds to options that allow you to raise and lower the lid while the car is in the drive, modern tech has transformed what you can get out of the seasonal cars, some of which was on display at the New York Auto Show.

Fiat

The Italian Automobile manufacturer Fiat says it officially "kicked off convertible season" when it unveiled a special edition package for its 124 Spider drop-top on Wednesday.

Called the Urbana Edition, the blackout appearance package costs $995 on top of a 124 Spider Classica which starts at $25,190.

The vehicle comes with an array of safety and security features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection and a rear backup camera. It also has a keyless door entry using a key fob and a start/stop button for turning on the engine.

Ford

Debuting on National Mustang Day, the new 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High-Performance Package is being offered in both coupe and convertible body styles.

Ford says the muscle car can sprint to 60 miles per hour in the "mid-four-second range" and it has a top of 155 mph.

Anyone who has ever owned a convertible knows that droptops can be troublesome. In particular, the fun of sunshine and fresh air can be overshadowed by noisy wind when you're punching the gas.

To fix this, Ford said it improved the Mustang in 2014 by focusing on its aerodynamics and upgrading the soft top.

Mustangs range from $26,395 to $67,135.

Porsche

The German carmaker unveiled an exclusive topless car that harks back to the company's 356 Speedster from the late 1950s.

Dubbed the "911 Speedster" the droptop dons a lightweight "tonneau" cover instead of a typical convertible top. This cover protects the sports car's interior from rain when parked, and is attached using eight Tenax fasteners.

The 911 Speedster has a "double-bubble" that sits behind the front seats over the area that would normally feature rear seating.

Buick

General Motors showed off a white version of its 2019 Buick Cascada on Wednesday. Buick says that the convertible has outsold the BMW 2 Series convertible as well as Audi's A3 and A5 convertibles combined since its introduction in 2016.

Still, the convertible may be winning a losing battle.

The car is sold under several different names in Europe, but Americans haven't been as receptive to the car, and sales dropped to 5,595 units in 2017 from 7,153 units the year before. The brand sold about 4,200 convertibles in 2018.

Prices start at $33,070.

Audi

The $65,100 Audi Cabriolet convertible was shown in grey with a red interior at the show. The convertible has a fully electronic top that can be lowered in just 15 seconds while the car is driving up to 31 mph.

The German automobile brand says the acoustic folding roof helps absorb unwanted noise.

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York Auto Show: Convertibles aren't quite dead yet as models hang on

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